There's no denying it -- winter takes a toll on skin. Indoor heating, cold, wind, and heavy clothing can pose special challenges when you have psoriasis. Instead of itching for summer, look at winter as a chance to pamper yourself and control psoriasis at the same time.
Smooth on Moisturizer: Keep your skin moist to reduce redness and itching and heal psoriasis patches. The thicker the cream or ointment, the better it is at locking water into your skin. Use moisturizing soap and a creamy lotion after you shower, bathe, or wash your hands. Choose fragrance-free products to avoid allergic reactions.
Choose Soothing Baths over Hot Showers: Long showers in hot water remove moisture from your skin. Shower in warm water just long enough to soap up and rinse off. You can relax in the tub, however. Sprinkle oil, oilated oatmeal, Epsom salts, or Dead Sea salts in a warm bath. Soak for about 15 minutes to slough off scales, soothe itching, and unwind. Apply moisturizer right after.
Use a Humidifier: To wake up with moist and smooth skin, use a humidifier. Run it in your bedroom at night to counter the drying effects of indoor heating. Be sure to follow the directions for cleaning the humidifier to avoid build-up of bacteria.
Wear Soft Layers: Frosty temperatures and wind can irritate your skin, triggering psoriasis flare-ups. They can also make psoriatic arthritis more painful. Bundle up in a soft scarf, hat, and gloves when you go outside to protect exposed areas of skin. Dress in layers that you can peel off to avoid getting overheated -- sweating can make psoriasis worse. Avoid wool, denim, and other fabrics more likely to irritate your skin than cotton.
Drink Water: To pump up moisture, drink plenty of water. You’ll know if you’re getting enough because your urine will be a pale yellow. If your urine is bright yellow or dark-colored, you may need more water.
Ease Stress: The winter holidays are full of cheer, but they also bring stress, which can make psoriasis flare. Plan time to relax during the holidays. Try a massage or moisturizing spa treatment to beat winter blahs. Don’t forget that exercise is a terrific stress reliever, and may help protect you from flare-ups.
Lighten Your Mood: Psoriasis increases your risk of depression. If you also have seasonal affective disorder – depression linked to less sunlight in winter and fall -- these months are an extra challenge. If you’re consistently sad or depressed, talk to your doctor. She may suggest light therapy or an antidepressant medicine to lift your mood.
Improve Your Treatment Plan: If your psoriasis routinely gets worse in winter, talk with your doctor. A simple adjustment to your medicines or some phototherapy may improve your winter symptoms.